5 Essential Tips for Pro Carpenters

Five game-changing pro tips for carpenters who want to up their game and get more efficient on the jobsite.

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Sanding Wood With a fence to prevent slippage | Construction Pro Tips

Prevent “Slippage” While Sanding

A belt sander is great at quickly smoothing out a board. It’s also great at launching a board across the workshop. Prevent this from happening by clamping down a piece of scrap wood behind the board you’re sanding. The fence will be more than enough to keep your piece from flying off in any unwanted directions. Find a fence board that is thinner than the one you’re sanding so you can sand all the way to the edge.

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Holding shoe against shoe for a more stable cope

Hold Shoe Against Shoe

When coping the end of a length of shoe molding, the best way to keep it from jumping around too much is to hold it up against another piece of shoe. Lay the two pieces flat on a table with the small profiles facing each other. Make sure that the piece of shoe that won’t be cut is sticking out about an inch or so further than the piece that will be coped. Then pinch the pieces together, hold them steady, and saw away.

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scribe with a tape measure
Courtesy of Trendecor

Scribe a Line With a Tape Measure

Scribing a straight line with nothing but a tape measure and a pencil is a great way to save time on the job and avoid using unnecessary tools. It’s also an essential skill that every rookie carpenter should practice and learn. The process itself is fairly simple, but it can take a few tries to learn how to do it consistently.

Step One:

Hold your tape measure in whichever of your hands is closest to the far edge of the board of the line you want to scribe the line onto.

Step Two:

Extend the blade of the tape a little past the length that you want to scribe. For example, if you are trying to draw a line that is ten inches away from the edge of the board, pull the blade out about a half an inch or so further than that.

Step Three:

With the rest of the tape still cupped in your hand, pinch the tape at the exact length you want to scribe and hold your fingers against the edge of the board (pictured above).

Step Four:

Hold your pencil firmly against the face of the claw of your tape measure. Make sure that you have a solid grip here, because if your pencil slips your line will be off.

Step Five:

Now that you are in position, slide the pencil and the tape down the width of the board you are scribing, keeping your pencil on the surface of the board and your finger pushed against its edge. As long as you are working off of a factory edge that does not randomly dip in some areas, you should be able to scribe a clean, straight line down the entire width of the board just by walking your pencil down it.

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Define the Line

Here’s a simple trick for all trim carpenters. Before coping a piece of trim or crown molding, rub a pencil along its edge to clearly define the line along which the cut should be made. This is especially helpful when coping lighter species of primed wood, as it can be hard to tell the face from the edge.

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Make Your Own Construction shims

Run out of shims? Don’t panic. Here is a step-by-step guide to making your own:

Step One: Grab Some Scrap

Shims don’t need to be made from flawless wood, so just grab the nearest piece of two-by. Draw a line about 8-in. from the edge of the board.

Step Two: Make Alternating Cuts At An Angle

Start by making alternating angled cuts down the length of the board. Stop cutting right at the line you drew earlier.

Step Three: Slice Off the Shims

Finally, chop off the end of the board…  there you go, a handful of perfectly reliable shims.